|CS Instructors Talk Students Through Their Next Traffic Situation|
On Sunday afternoon, our Cycling Savvy class went out on the road. I’m not entirely sure if the parking lot drills readied us for this, or merely gave us an opportunity to forget some of Friday night’s lecture, but either way, the road session was an experience that should not be missed by anyone contemplating taking a Cycling Savvy course. It differs substantively from the road session in the LAB Traffic 101 course. What’s more, in retrospect, it seems obvious to me that the LAB road curriculum would be easy to fix (with added road time), without any major changes in basic direction. To illustrate the difference, I’ll describe the LAB Traffic 101 road session and compare the Cycling Savvy equivalent.
In LAB Traffic 101, after completing parking lot drills that are very like those in Cycling Savvy, the class is taken out on local roads to give them first-hand experience with cycling on low stress roads. This sounds sensible, and I’ll state that when I took Traffic 101, it seemed appropriate to me for inexperienced cyclists. Anyway, in T101, the road experience guidance is merely that the streets are typically 35mph or less. Cycling Savvy is quite different.
|Richard Wharton Signals For a Left Turn|
Cycling Savvy uses a dramatically more structured approach to the student road experience. It is NOT just, or even primarily, a ride to experience real streets. In truth, in Cycling Savvy, you ride real streets to get to “situations.” As I realized about half way into the session, CS’s tour consists of a series of specific street situations that it expects students to be exposed to, and succeed with. For example, we got situations structured so we’d realized we should sometimes simply remain in the left lane and then make a left turn, or deal with lanes that appeared or disappeared. We had other situations where we went over a freeway overpass and then merged into a situation where we’d make a “jug handle” turn instead of dealing with complex and heavy traffic. Some, reading this, will not understand all of the specific terms I’m using, but that is less important than understanding that Cycling Savvy has a list of traffic situations they expect that cyclists will face and you WILL be exposed, deliberately, to each and every one of them. There is no pressure to do something the student is not ready to do, but it is a much more deliberate and structured situation than I saw in my Traffic 101 course, or even in my LCI Seminar. In truth, the situations were much more like what Preston Tyree put us through in our LCI Seminar than the Traffic 101 course, except that in CS, they are not attempting to teach the student how to teach others. I actually encountered situations in CS that were NOT part of our LCI road time. In our LCI, we didn’t do freeway overpasses or stretches on high speed roads. I had to learn that by myself. CS does all that, and more. If you haven't done this, you'll have to trust me that it is not hard to do, though it can be a bit scary if you have to learn it on your own as I did. Cycling Savvy takes care of the learning so you don't have to "do it yourself."
|Lots of Police on 9/11|
If you are reading this, but are not FULLY confident in traffic, I can assure you that Cycling Savvy will not push you to do anything dangerous. In our situations, I saw none that I do not deal with on at least an occasional basis in my own cycling. On the other hand, knowing you CAN do these maneuvers is critical to a cyclist ready to ride confidently, safely, and assertively, and that appreciate less conflict with motorists.
|Chalk Diagrams Helped Students Understand the More Complex Traffic Situations|
|Keri Caffrey Explains Just How Far that Truck Door Will Swing Out|
Repetition is also necessary, and that cannot be fully offered by Cycling Savvy in a single riding session with many different experiences to cover. Some items will stick with the student, but other points will be forgotten. That could change, but today, the Traffic 101 course leaves the student with written reference material (even if it isn’t ideally organized for that purpose and the diagrams are less than ideal) that can be reviewed and practiced after the course. Cycling Savvy will, I hope, someday leave each student with a flash drive to help their independent repetition of sound principles, seeing themselves actually DOING it once again. Paper is SO 20th Century! I’m not sure the state of practice is to that point, but it is getting close. For sure, it would add teaching burden so maybe things are better the way they are, but I know if I was learning a lot, I’d really like to be able to review things at my leisure afterwards.
The bottom line: I hope that I’ve not painted either an unrealistically rosy or pessimistic portrait about what Cycling Savvy either is or is not. Soul searching about Bicycle Education is long overdue, and Cycling Savvy is an admirable advance. Simply eliminating the mechanical elements that many students do not want or need and dumping the test that adds no value to the student would give it an advantage, but it went beyond that and reduced instructor lecture preparation load, as well as adding useful structure to the on-street session.
|Our Class and Teachers|